As humans, we express ourselves through language. It is the way we communicate with each other and the way we understand each other. Sometimes, when we want to express our feelings and emotions, we write poetry.

Poetry is a type of literature that allows us to express not just ourselves, but aspects of ourselves and that of our lives that are deeply emotional and personal, poems evoke our feelings, such as pain, love, displeasure, happiness, joy, and so on.

Poetry is written in such a way that it sounds beautiful to the ears of the listener, words are arranged in particular forms, rhythms and meters or scales, and a lot of literary techniques are used, poetry is beauty itself.

Such a construct of language and a way with words is often rewarded by society. Poetry competitions in Nigeria are mostly organized by literary groups all across the country.

There are hundreds of such poetry contests in Nigeria. You can participate in any of them if you meet the criteria of being blessed with such lavish and creative talent.

Let’s look at some of the places to find poetry competitions in Nigeria. As we said, there are hundreds of them, but we have highlighted some of the most prominent ones and poetry contests in 2020, you can look up more on these websites, they publish news on writing competitions and other competitions in Nigeria.

How To Find Poetry Writing Competitions In Nigeria

You can find out about poetry competitions from posters, public announcements, advertisements, newspapers, TV, but mostly, from the internet.

Poetry contest organizers often post about the contest on their social media pages and websites months before the deadline for submission. If you follow a few poetry/writing pages you will be able to see reposts for Poetry Prizes.

You will find the entry requirements and contact info on the websites and in the captions of the shared posts.

Poetry contest in Nigeria is easy to find online.
Finding poetry competitions is easy through online channels like social media e,t.c. Source: Unsplash

The criteria for entering some of the poetry contests are affected by age restrictions and sometimes by the level at which you are at school, because some of the poetry contests are for secondary school students only, while others are for undergraduates only.

Some are even children poetry competitions, but many others are open to anyone in Nigeria, as long as you have what it takes, you are free to participate.

Aside from age limits and level of education, you may be asked to submit work only around a certain theme, such as poems about death (a very popular subject with poets), poems about love, growth of a nation, peace, etc. You also have to stick to their rules once accepted.

The rules for each poetry competition are boldly written on their website, alongside is usually an explanation on How To Enter the contest. is a resourceful website that posts regular updates on many competition types in Nigeria, not just poetry. You will find other literary writing contests, essay writing competitions, prose-fiction contests, and many other helpful grants, awards and prizes in various fields.

While most of what you will find are going to be the prestigious poetry contests with big cash prizes, note that many online poetry contests have reasonable cash prizes, while some don't have any.

Check out websites in Nigeria that will allow you to submit poems.

Top Poetry Contests In Nigeria

Some of the biggest poetry competitions in Nigeria have these enormous cash prizes befitting a poet, through ages and generations we know that poets in ancient civilizations enjoyed hefty cash rewards from kings and their courtiers, so why not now?

Because of the cash prizes in these big contests ( over a million Naira), they attract a lot of entrants from across the country.

Below are some of these competitions in no particular order.

NLNG Poetry Prize

This is the most prestigious poetry prize in Nigeria, with a grand prize of about $100,000!!! It is the biggest literary contest in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.

It is organized by Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), an oil corporation in the country, and the contest has been going for 15 years and counting. It does not, however, only focus on poetry submissions, it switches between four categories, prose fiction, poetry, drama and children literature.

Each year the prize award goes to one entrant from these categories. The participants must submit a work that was published within four years before the contest of that year. For instance, if the year of the contest is 2019, the submission must be a literary work done within 2015-2019. And the literary work must be from the chosen category of that year.

In 2013, it was poetry that was chosen, and the winner of the competition was Tade Ipadola.

ANA Prize For Poetry

Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) is the largest body of writers in Nigeria, their contest attracts a lot of attention because it is published everywhere in the media for weeks.

They have distinguished members in the organization which include countless university professors, deans, and other academic men and women. Hence, each year their panel of judges is always an interesting combination of literary giants from around the country.

Note, before you can submit an entry into the ANA Prize for Poetry, you have to become a member of ANA first. You need to sign up through their website and pay an entree fee amongst other things, such as buying a copy of one of their anthologies.

It is a bit tedious to submit your work here but totally worth it because the publicity you will get is unlike any other, it is incredible. As you will be published in one of the association's poetry anthologies.

The poem to be submitted can be published or unpublished (you must notify them if it is published and where it was published), and it must be within a two year period of the contest.

It often takes weeks or months after the deadline for winners to be announced. Winners get over a hundred thousand to a million Naira.

Brunel International African Poetry Prize

This is also one of the biggest poetry competitions in Africa. Its participants are from all over Africa, about three Nigerians are known to have won this prize, Romeo Oriogun won the Brunel Prize in 2017.

The first position can win over a million Naira from a poetry contest in Nigeria.
The first position can win over a million Naira from a poetry contest in Nigeria. Source: Unsplash

Each participant is expected to submit up to 10 poems which are to be judged by a panel of judges. This competition is only open to those who have not yet published a full-length poetry book, but those who are self-published can join, or those who published their poems in chapbooks or pamphlets.

Best poetry books in Nigeria.

Poetry Competitions By Literary Magazines

It is exciting to be published in print, to see your poem make it to that stage is truly remarkable. And there are poetry contests that enable your work to be published in magazines, read by thousands of people.

The poetry contests are often organized by the magazines themselves. They choose a theme to go along nicely with the theme of their latest publication.

CFwriterz is one such magazine, they organize poetry competitions every year and they publish the winning poems. They also dish out decent prize money for the winners.

CFwriterz magazine and its poetry competition were founded by Oladeji Jonathan in 2016, it is a bi-annual magazine. They have a readership of over 7000.

The contest has become a popular poetry contest in Nigeria. The poem to be submitted must be unpublished, it could be a translated work, you can check their website for examples of what they expect.

Also, writers must only submit through their website, and they emphasize very much to write on African themes.

Nigeria Poetry Competitions In 2020

There are many poetry contests in Nigeria happening in 2020, some small, some big.  Searching on Google is a good idea, it will reveal a lot of them. Most of the ones we mentioned above are yearly poetry competitions in Nigeria, so if you have the talent for poetry, you don’t have to wait any longer, simply join them.

Here are some other Poetry contests for 2020 you might like to participate in:

Nigerian Students Poetry Prize (NSSPP)

This poetry contest is organized each year by Poets In Nigeria or PIN. It originated from the University of Ibadan in 2016. Participants are to send one unpublished poem.

They must be students of any recognized tertiary institution in Nigeria. To join, writers must buy one of their anthologies and subscribe to their newsletter. Last year alone, they received over 1500 entries from undergraduates across Nigeria.

WordUp 411, Season 9

This poetry contest is quite different from the rest, it is a Poetry Slam competition (more on that later). The poets send a video of them performing an original piece written by them.

The poetry contest has many rounds and towards the last stages, the poets have to attend in-person to perform their poem on stage in Lagos. It is an exciting event.

Poetry Recitals In Nigeria

You can warm up your poetry talent by going to poetry readings, they often organize small poetry contests now and then at different venues. They are mostly regional because people have to go to the event in person.

Though the turn out is not as big as it is online, still, many poetry reading groups have hundreds of members. Take Abuja Literary Society for instance (ALS), they organize poetry readings every Friday of the week in big hotel halls in Abuja.

Poetry recitation in Nigeria is common nowadays.
People come up to a stage to recite poems. Source: Unsplash

The poets will come up to recite their poems on stage to an attentive audience. Lagos have lots of such poetry groups, Gombe and Kano have something similar, and many other states.

What Is Slam Poetry?

The poetry slam is a spoken word competition where participants face-off with each other, it is an onstage performance by poets, and the poem is recited in an excitable rhythm and pace. In short, it is a battle of wits.

There is a panel of judges which sometimes includes members of the audience. These events are quite informal and friendly, but very exciting to watch and also performing there. WordUp 411 that we just talked about is an example of a poetry slam event, their event goes by the appropriate name, War of Words.

Check out these poetry quotes for lovers of poetry, and if you want to more about poetry in Nigeria, click here. 

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Hafiz is a freelance writer who has an appetite for creativity and smart tech. He also dabbles in poetry.